When I was working as a sales manager in a small IT company back in Ukraine, my boss was often checking on our team’s productivity. When he’s found that a person was doing something else than working, he used to say (it’s difficult to translate from Russian, but something like):
“If you only invested your energy into something less useless!”
These words still resonate with me..
It’s all about setting your priorities. We all have 24 hours in a day. 8 hours are spent on sleeping, then 2 hours more on traveling between your office and your home, this leaves us with 14 hours we have an opportunity to invest somewhere.
The question is, how many of these do we invest stupidly?
Recently I’ve overheard the conversation between two students in a bus. They were discussing what and how many TV-series they have watched so far. The girl seemed to watch several 40-minutes episodes of Breaking Bad every day and was already done with 4 or 5 TV-series she had watched from the beginning to the end. She couldn’t wait to start watching the next TV-series in her pipeline. The guy she was talking with had similar interests. He seemed to be spending several hours on TV-series daily.
I said to myself, unbelievable, these guys are so young and energetic, but they are literally killing their time! At the age of 20 you can achieve so much, you don’t have kids, you have your parents support (at least in Europe), you don’t have to worry for money! If only you started investing your time at this age wisely, you could already retire before 30!
What is worse is that there are people who at 30, 40, 50 have the same attitude to life. I’ve recently asked a guy in his thirties at work, what are you doing every day? He said, I am just working and then I go to bed. He answered after a moment of hesitation, and looked to be surprised with his own answer himself.
There are a couple of things I discovered myself which are incredibly important when it comes to spending your time wisely.
First is becoming aware of activities you spend your time on, and how much it takes you.
Second is setting priorities.
will wake you up from your daily hibernating state when you are only doing something others want from you and don’t quite realize if it is giving you any value.
Think of what you do every day, where you are spending your energy. Are you watching TV-series? Are you browsing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram?
What will help you realize where you are spending your time is writing a journal. At the end of your day I stop for 5 minutes and reflect, what I was doing today, how much I have spent on each of the activities.
At first you perhaps won’t be able to recall everything but gradually your awareness will increase and you’ll be able to capture even shorter activities. Plus, it will do a good job for your memory.
will direct your effort towards those things which are the most important for you.
What can help you here is planning. When you plan your day and order your tasks by priority, it will automatically make you focused on the most important stuff.
During the day I sometimes stop and assess if what I am doing right now has a priority over the other things I have to do. If not – I drop it and switch to the more important activity.
I don’t think that anything besides our own persistence can help here. We just have to keep asking ourselves if we are doing the right thing as often as possible and we’ll start doing that automatically.
Changing those two things – raising our awareness and getting into the habit of setting priorities should produce immediate results. Start right now, come back again tomorrow and share how much happier you are:)